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Old 04-24-2009, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In preparation for therapy tomorrow DH and I talked about some things bothering us...

He brought up how upsetting it has been that my parents often say that DD is their first grandchild. Often they correct themselves and sthen say grandbaby. Note: My parents have always loved/love DSD. They do not treat her any differently than DD and buy each one gifts and such. In reality they spend more on DSD right now simply because she is older and age appropriate toys and clothes are more expensive for her. Plus she is in dance and with fundraisers, etc... you get the picture.

Anyway, I tried to gently explain to DH that they do not love DSD any less but they are very excited for the first born grandchild.

I hate to say this, and I know he doesn't understand it... but he is stealing our "thunder" so to speak. A first child/grandchild is a big milestone... but we all feel like we can't even mention that because DH is so extremely sensitive to the issue.

So I asked him... if my parents need to refer to DSD as their first grandchild, am I to refer to her as my first daughter and DD as my second?

He didn't have an answer for that one except to say that by them saying that it's alienating DSD... though I have no idea how since they totally treat her like a grandchild buying her special treats... they even do sleepovers with her.

I tried to explain that it doesn't mean any of us love DSD any less or want to treat her differently, but DD is my first born child... and that has to mean something, right?

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Old 04-25-2009, 12:02 AM
 
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He didn't have an answer for that one except to say that by them saying that it's alienating DSD... though I have no idea how since they totally treat her like a grandchild buying her special treats... they even do sleepovers with her.
Do they say things like "Oh, this is our first grandchild." in reference to the new baby when your DSD can hear them talking? If so, I can see how a young child might feel hurt by that. It's hard enough for siblings from the same parents to have grandparents gushing over a new baby, much less grandparents gushing over "their first granchild" in front of her.

As far as how you refer to your DSD, that honestly depends on so many things. Where is the biological mother in this picture? What does she call you? Does she visit your home or does she live there? I grew up calling my step-mother "Mom" and lived with her and my father from the time I was 3.

While I'm sure this is something that evolved over time, what I remember is being "one of my three daughters" and "this is J, my middle daughter" when my step-mother spoke of me. Only in situations where it was actually necessary did she refer to me as anything other than her daughter.
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:03 AM
 
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I don't have much insight, but I'll be interested to see what others say--this may (or may not) become an issue (with my parents, specifically) should my partner and I reproduce together (or should my sister and her soon-to-be-husband beat us to the punch).



I've said this before, but it bears repeating: stepparents (and other step-relatives) are kind of in this weird catch-22...if we call our stepkids our kids, we're stepping on mom's toes or confusing the kids about relationships...but if we differentiate, even just in the label, between our stepkids and our biological kids, we're playing favorites and leaving our stepkids out.

FWIW, I'll refer to my SD as my "kid" but not my "daughter." I'm not positive why I draw that distinction--maybe because I grew up in a family of teachers, and some teachers call their students their "kids," so I associate the term more generally than I do "daughter" (which, to me, implies a biological relationship).

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Old 04-25-2009, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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FWIW, I'll refer to my SD as my "kid" but not my "daughter." I'm not positive why I draw that distinction--maybe because I grew up in a family of teachers, and some teachers call their students their "kids," so I associate the term more generally than I do "daughter" (which, to me, implies a biological relationship).
That is how I feel too and what I do.


Note, the part where I asked if I should call DSD my first daughter was more a question to get DH thinking on why he has issues with my parents saying what they say. I don't want to call her that, because, well... she's not. She's my first kid... but not my first daughter. I know that likely makes no sense. But my daughter came from me... DSD did not. But she IS my kid and I love her and would do anything for her, as she is my child. But I can't seem to call her daughter.

And to answer a previous question... no, my parents do not say first grandchild in front of DSD, nor do they gush over baby and ignore her. When they are here they gush over both girls actually and involve DSD with DD if they are holding DD at the moment. Then they usually take turns coloring with DSD one-on-one.

My Mom had even started a grandkid brag book to take to work long before DD was even conceived.

They are likely thinking of it in terms of the same way I do with kid and daughter... It's hard to explain...


Oh... and on another note. DSD is absolutely forbidden to call me Mom or any form thereof... so it's like this weird double standard thing going on...

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Old 04-25-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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When it comes to pregnancy and new babies, it gets really extra confusing being a step-mom... Now that I am on my 3rd pregnancy, it doesn't seem like a big deal to say I am pregnant "with #4" or "with our 4th" even though it is technically our third pregnancy together.... but when I was pregnant with my first and people asked if this was my first... it was hard to find a way to answer that felt totally honest without taking a paragraph to explain my family situation.

I totally agree with ProtoLawyer that step-parenting is presents that catch-22 situation all the time. I try to remember that the only person I have to worry about when it comes to my relationship with my step-daughter is me and my step-daughter. Everyone else can just deal... as long as I am being true to our relationship, I fell okay.

My oldest was the first biological baby in our family, so I absolutely understand your dilemma... I think there was probably a lot of tactful avoidance of any labels of first... I suspect my mom may have said something like "this is the first grandchild we get to do XYZ for" (buy newborn clothes for, take me shopping for, visit right after birth, etc). and I know everyone was probably careful with how they worded things in front of my step-daughter. Maybe it was easier because the next baby after my step-daughter was a little boy, so people could just say " first grandson" instead of " first grandchild."

I'm glad your husband is going to be able to work through the root of these feelings with the help of a therapist. sounds like he is really dealing with some tough and confusing feelings right now...

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Old 04-25-2009, 10:31 AM
 
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I think that this is just one more thing in the large pile of sensitive issues that you and your DH have. I put this issue in the same category as the one where he had to have the exact same number/sizes of pictures of the girls. I think that he has a lot of guilt, and seems to be dealing with that by criticizing your and your parents' actions. I am guessing that he feels a loss of control over the custody situation and DSD's mom's choices (since your state so heavily favors the mother as the primary caregiver), but he feels like he might be able to control you/your parents.

Your DH can't have it both ways - she can't be the first grandchild if she isn't your daughter. That's just the way it is. If your DH left you, it is very possible that they would never see her again. Not true with your DD.

I am lucky in the fact that DSD's mom had other children already when she and DH were together, so in a way, DH had already dealt with some of these issues. For him, DSD was his first child, and she was his mom's first grandchild. So he didn't expect the feelings to be any different in my family. They don't treat DSD any differently, but it is different. DH has never had a problem with that.

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Old 04-25-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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I think your dh needs to find a way to come to peace with the fact that this IS your first dd and your parents first grandchild. This does not mean that your or your parents love dsd any less ,or treat her any differently. But, there is a difference still. Pushing everyone to pretend that there is no difference makes life awkward for everyone, including dsd. Dd was my parents first bio grandchild as well, and yes, they were VERY excited about it. However, they also made a point to includie dsd in everything and never to mention the "first granchild" thing in front of her. But yes, other than that they do call her their first grandchild. They are wonderful with dsd and dd. Your dh seems so intent on "protecting" dsd that he is going way overboard on things that really are not affecting her at all (since you said that your parents do not refer to your dd as thier first grandchild in front of her, treat her differently, etc.) I hope your therapy session goes well. I"m sure any parent will tell you that they love their first and second children equally, but differenty, and this can be the same with your stepchild and your first child. I love dsd differently than I love dd, partly bc, yes, dd is my first bio child, and partly just because they are different people. Okay, a little OT, but I think you dh needs to accept this idea of equal but different love. Good luck.

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Old 04-25-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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Your dh seems so intent on "protecting" dsd that he is going way overboard
That's how I see it as well. I think the core of your problems is that your husband doesn't trust the fact that you and your family love his daughter, and that translates into him trying to push things into a certain picture that blended family simply doesn't fit.

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Old 04-26-2009, 04:12 PM
 
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I'm sensitive the subject as well but I think your dh is being incredibly irrational. I want "my 1st kids" to be loved by my dh and I work hard at making it work for all of us but I wouldn't dream of taking the joy of "his 1st" away from him.
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Old 04-26-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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That's how I see it as well. I think the core of your problems is that your husband doesn't trust the fact that you and your family love his daughter, and that translates into him trying to push things into a certain picture that blended family simply doesn't fit.
I was just going to type this exact thing. Then I saw you beat me to it! So, ditto this!

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Old 04-26-2009, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This continued...

We were at the grocery store yesterday, just DH, me and the baby.

The checkout lady was commenting on how cute DD was and asked if she was our first and DH said our second. Which I didn't mind.

The convo continued and she commented on how tiny DD is *sigh* and asked how big she was when she was born and I told her she was only 5lbs 13oz... then she asked how big our first was and DH said 8lbs 9oz and her eyes got all big and looked at me... "whoa that was a big difference for you."

At this point I just smiled and said #1 has a different Mommy.


When we left DH asked why I had to bring that up. And I said I wasn't about to lie and take credit for DSD's birth... the fact is that she has a different Mother.


Maybe he is struggling with the realization that we will never be the normal 2.5 kids, dog and picket fence family.

That just really irritated me that he expected me to go on about DSD being the first born when she isn't to me!!

I was in labor with DD for 43 hours and I am never going to forget that or brush it aside to spare DH's feelings.


FYI we didnt get to this topic in therapy, but I'm totally bringing it up next time.

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Old 04-26-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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Yeahhhhhh he's got issues. Because honestly, if you were to 'act as if' DSD was your first child, you'd be doing a disservice to her mom.

Maybe he wants to forget his ex? Maybe it's not about you per se but more erasing that part of his life without erasing DSD?

I guess you could take it as a compliment that he's wanting you to all be such a close nit family. But could you ask how he'd feel if his ex was acting like this about their child because she has a new husband? Maybe if he tries on the shoe he'll see it doesn't fit so great?

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Old 04-26-2009, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeahhhhhh he's got issues. Because honestly, if you were to 'act as if' DSD was your first child, you'd be doing a disservice to her mom.

Maybe he wants to forget his ex? Maybe it's not about you per se but more erasing that part of his life without erasing DSD?

I guess you could take it as a compliment that he's wanting you to all be such a close nit family. But could you ask how he'd feel if his ex was acting like this about their child because she has a new husband? Maybe if he tries on the shoe he'll see it doesn't fit so great?

Bolding mine... See that is what makes this so mind boggling. Because his ex does have a finace and he FLIPPED the one time DSD called him Dad. Same when DSD called me Mom a few times. He had a big talk with her and told her she only has one Mommy and one Daddy.

So, now out of nowhere he wants me to call DSD my first kid and act as if nothing is "different" about our family even though DSD calls me Jen.

I don't get it.

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Old 04-26-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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Yowzer! I guess then the only suggestion I have (other than therapy...clearly...LOL) is to come up with a simple phrase you can say when he does this. Something like "Honey, I'm not comfortable erasing DSD's mom from our family. Pass the corn chips" or something along those lines. Then rinse...repeat.....rinse...repeat...

How frustrating, and good for you for not buying into his weirdness, it's just unhealthy!

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Old 04-26-2009, 09:08 PM
 
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...and asked how big she was when she was born and I told her she was only 5lbs 13oz... then she asked how big our first was and DH said 8lbs 9oz and her eyes got all big and looked at me... "whoa that was a big difference for you."
I might have replied, "Yup, this one was definitely easier for me!"

Haha.

It's funny, the grocery store is a place we always ended up having these weird conversations where I tried to figure out whether to tell a flat-out lie, phrase things so I wasn't totally lying but simply misleading, or to risk the need for a long conversation by answering honestly. For example, we very often went to the local grocery store to get bagels for the kids and coffee for us (gotta love a grocery store with a Starbusks inside). Sometimes my step daughter (the oldest) was with us, sometimes not. When she wasn't, we often were asked where she was today... with any other child, I wouldn't have to think twice to answer... but in this case, it became this exercise in quick-thinking and half-truths, always keeping my fingers crossed for not follow-up questions.

Of course, in my case it wasn't about my husband's feelings, just about my own desire not to get into a long conversation about my family dynamic while buying bagels.

While you can make an effort not to go out of your way to knowingly hurt your husband's feelings when you can easily avoid it, I think to stay sane you just have to know that these are HIS issues, not yours, and you are not responsible for dealing with them, he is. Stay true to yourself, which is what it sounded like you did... at the point when it feels like you are lying or being disrespectful to your step-daughter or her mom, you have to respect yourself and answer in a way that feels right to you.

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Old 04-26-2009, 09:33 PM
 
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I might have replied, "Yup, this one was definitely easier for me!"
I might have replied the opposite. "Oh, the first one didn't hurt me a bit."

We do occasionally revisit what to do when random strangers assume I am SD's mother. She's learning that the long "That's not my mommy! That's ProtoLawyer! She's my daddy's giiiirlllfriend, and when she and my daddy get married she'll be my stepmother, kind of like Cinderella but not really because Cinderella's stepmother is mean and ProtoLawyer is only mean sometimes" (yes, she's given this one) explanation isn't really necessary when the sample lady at the supermarket asks her to "ask her mommy" if it's OK for her to have some lemonade.

But I also have no problem with answering "she's at her mom's" when people ask where she is, or correcting people when it does matter (which does include friends, school, legal stuff)--I live in an area where blended families, single-parent families, "serial" families (loosely, moms who have multiple children from different dads, or vice versa), etc., are extremely common, so nobody really asks anything beyond, "oh, you're her stepmother, then."

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Old 04-26-2009, 10:05 PM
 
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I have always found those kind of converstations to be particularly awkward! But, I totally agree that DH probably wants to "erase" his ex from the picture. My dp sometimes makes comments to that effect, that he wishes that dsd was my biokid, etc. But, I am not and that is life and it is what we make of it! It is particularly frustrating for you that he wants you to *sometimes* pretend to be dsd's mom, and othertimes is vehemently against you taking the mom role with her. Again, this seems to be his issue more than your behavior that is the problem.
That said, I do not always correct people who assuem I am dsd's mom. In a conversation with a stranger, I would let it fly, esp. if it bothers your dh so much. But, I also think that there is NO shame in being a stepfamily and we shouldn't feel so weird about bringing it up in conversation. Like a pp, sometimes I just want to end the conversation so I won't go into it. But your dh again seems to be the one to remember that having two kids with different moms is not a bad thing, and is actually very common!
I actually asked dsd once if it made her feel bad when I told somebody she was my stepdaughter as opposed to daughter and she said that she would think it was weird if I said daughter or let somebody call me her mother. She is proud to have a stepmom and is not bothered about it at all I like to think that that is partially because we have all tried to make it seem like a good thing to have a stepmother and emphasized that she can have a great relationship with her mom and her stepmom. Although I totally hear the long explanations of her relationsihp to me-my particular favorite was " That is not my mom, it is only my stepmom" Thanks dsd, lol. Or, "That's not my mom, my mommy and daddy got divorced because they fought too much and were not right together, etc." LOL! We had to discuss why that is a little too much info

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Old 04-26-2009, 10:44 PM
 
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I can see both sides. I don't think it is as cut and dried as some people think it is.

I know a woman who has seven grandkids. If you asked her, she'd say seven - with no explanations. Only the seventh is actually, biologically, her grandchild. The first three are her step-grandkids, and the next three are mine. Her son was my best friend in high school. Only the seventh is biologically related to her. But you would never know that if you didn't know that. She refers to them the same. She treats them the same. She loves them the same. At least that anyone could tell.

She wanted all of us to come to her family reunion, and we wore the name tags "so and so, Ginny's family" and were in the photos and the whole nine yards. There is no distinction; I've never heard her - or any of her family - refer to the seventh grandchild as her first. Never. I think it is pretty wonderful.

It isn't always just biology. In her heart, they are all hers. And they are.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:50 PM
 
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It so funny how differently the (step)kids respond to what adults say, too. I wonder if it has to do with how the parents approach it or how the step-child feels about how the parents approach it, or what. And I wonder if it is different around different parents, or if one parent's opinions/feelings can dominate, or what... interesting to think about...

If someone says "ask your mom if you can have a cookie" and my step-daughter (who is 6) is with me, she knows who they mean and will ask me if she can have a cookie... no correction, no hesitation, no funny look. If someone asks her (about me) "is that your mom?" she sometimes says "yup" and sometimes says "it's actually my step-mom," and it seems to depend on whether or not it matters about the genetic connection, which is when I tend to differentiate.

We've always (at least at our house) assured her that she can call me and refer to me with whatever is comfortable for her, and my husband is really laid back about it when she refers to her step-dad as "my dad" when she is talking to someone else and it makes sense in that scenario. She's got enough stress in her life without worrying about protecting the feelings of the adults, having to watch what she says in casual conversations with strangers... we're supposed to be taking care of HER, not the other way around.

There's my off-the-subject 2-cents

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Old 04-26-2009, 11:57 PM
 
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My parents don't consider or treat my stepkids as their grandkids.......if you ask my parents how many grandkids they have, they say 3..the 2 kids I've given birth to and the 1 kid my sister has. My stepkids are not really a part of my parents world....my parents live in another state and they have only seen them a couple times, in fact.
it doesn't hurt anyone's feelings here. My stepkids have their own grandparents.
Plus...i think it's tricky....it's sort of putting them in a position where a choice is made for them, without their consent......and I think I would hate it if that were done for me. I mean...*I* married a man with 5 kids and accepted that....my parents didn't. But what? they are supposed to feel something for these kids despite barely knowing them? I don't think that's realistic. Quite frankly..not everyone has the capacity to love an adopted or step child.....some of us need that biological connection to our kids just to be able to put up with evertything it takes to raise them. I personally could not do it for anyone who didn't come out of my vagina..or possibly my sisters, if something terrible happened to her and her SO. *shrug* Hate me if you want, but i know my limitations.
It DOES steal some of your thunder..and it's okay to feel like that. It's your first child. It's special.

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Old 04-27-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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I feel like I'm always the only one coming from the bio-parent of both kids perspective I can really empathize with how your husband is feeling and the insecurities he is dealing with. My partner's family has been FANTASTIC about the whole "first grandchild" thing because my son is their first biological grandchild and that is really, really special - but when people ask my mother-in-law how it feels to be a grandmother, she always says she already is but then talks about how it is to have the first grandbaby. Knowing that she goes out of her way for my and my daughter's feelings - and truly does feel my daughter as family - makes me more secure and able to understand how special a first grandchild is to them. I then also go out of my way to share all the "firsts" with them of our son. (My daughter could probably care less, but I think that's because we've created such a great situation for her). People have also asked my partner how it feels to be a dad and he always says he already is but how special it is to have a baby. I love him and his family for it; but I also don't expect that in his heart of hearts he means it.

IT IS DIFFERENT. In one of our counseling sessions, our counselor asked my partner what it was like the first time he saw our son/his baby. It was her way of drawing out what was different about the relationship with his son (love at first sight) and his stepdaughter (love that built over time). Your husband has to recognize and accept this difference. This was a hard thing for me, but once I let go of the idea that it would be the "same", I was able to appreciate the differences. Of course, this also means you need to recognize and accept the difference; you don't get to just have a new baby and it's just the 3 of you and you can just focus on that piece of your family. That's not your reality; but that doesn't mean your reality can't be great. In some ideal world, do I wish I had met my current partner first and had kids with him and not had to deal with this stuff? Sure. But I also love our family; I love seeing the way my partner stretches himself for a child that is not "his" and worries over her. I love seeing him let her be a big sister and the new and unique bond that's created between them. I love how the other night, I asked the baby if he wanted to go to daddy and my daughter said please no because they were having this special moment watching an SNL skit and my partner kept in the moment with my daughter (which must have killed him b/c he had been at work away from his baby all day) and that he truly appreciated that my daughter was reaching out. I love that my son has this older sister who treasures him and loves him to pieces and will always be there for him. I love the way he has a laugh that is just for her. I find that the more my partner and I understand what the other is going through and makes daily "sacrifices" for our bigger family, the more we bond and become the family we want to be. It's not easy but it's the most worthwhile emotional adventure I've ever been a part of.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bronxmom, I really hope therapy can help my DH see those parts of it. I really get that.

It was a hard adjustment "giving up all the firsts"... and I think if I had my DH supportive and understanding of it it would be better.

But like you said... I do love sitting back and watching my family as it is now. My DD has a smile ready for DSD all the time and the other night the adults took turns holding DD chasing DSD around the yard and they were both laughing like crazy. It was truly amazing. DSD is such a great big sister and it truly gets me teary eyed.


To other points... yes, I pick an answer depending on the situation and my comfort level. Pretty much whenever anyone tells DSD to go ask Mommy or whatever, I have never once corrected her. Even the few times she has called me Mom, I have never corrected her. DH has always corrected her if she slipped with that...

And usually if someone at the store tells her to ask Mom or whatever, she will tell them, "no that isn't my Mom, that is my Jen." The other day at a restruant she went even farther with that and said her Mom is home with her Jeremy and how she didn't always have a Jen and a Jeremy.

She is almost 5, and I have tried talking to her about step-parents, and DH has once... but she still doesn't quite get it. She never uses the term anyway. She will argue that me and Jeremy are not her parents. It's a weird situation for sure....

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Old 04-29-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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My parents are similar to those of bobandjess99. . . . it bothers me when my parents do not acknowledge my steps as their grandkids, but then again, they have spent rather little time with them, being on the other side of the continent. I have had to just accept that "blood" is very important to them. Not only do they feel related to their blood-grandchildren, but they also feel responsible for them in ways that they will never feel for my stepchildren. My steps won't make it into any wills, for example. But then, they do have their own blood-grandparents. I would love it if my parents felt differently, but they do not. My mom is v. g. at remembering birthdays and asking about them, but she's really the only one. My sisters made it clear that they would only remember my daughter's birthday. I would not act the same if they were stepmoms. However, as they live on the other side of the continent, and are not part of my steps' lives, well, I guess it doesn't impact them much, if at all. If they lived close at hand, it woudl be different--but then, they may act differently, too.
Sigh. I think that part of my annoyance on this issue is the entire lack of understanding about my life as a stepmom. Aside from my mom, they don't seem to realize how much *space* my steps occupy in my mind and life. . . . even though we see them only EOW plus one weekly visit.
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Old 04-30-2009, 01:04 AM
 
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My mom says my SS is her "oldest grandson" and DS is her "first grandson". They (SS and DS) seem to really appreciate having a special title with her.

I tell people I have 4 kids, even though the oldest is my SS. He lives with us full-time though, I don't know if that makes a difference. I would never feel comfortable pretending to have given birth to SS, even with a stranger. I think your response was good. I am sorry your DH was bothered by it. This will be a good topic for your therapist.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:38 AM
 
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Another thought on this (I know I already posted). Does Alex call your mom Grandma (or some such)? If not, then Kallie will be the first child to call her grandma. Just like she will be the first to call you mom. These are really important, special things. Perhaps you can explain this to him - esp as he seems to feel strongly himself about the importance of names. It seems like your mom really took to the grandmother role with your sd and has been really great - this is the most important thing. You might try talking to your husband about how love can be expressed different ways. Just last week it hit me how much time my partner spends worrying about my daughter's adjustment to school, friends, some difficulties she's going through, etc and that that was a concrete manifestation of his love for her - and just as important, if different, as the more spontaneous physical affection he has with our son. It was an important realization and communicating to him my appreciation of it was important. Perhaps you could talk to your husband about these ideas of how love is expressed in different ways.
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Old 04-30-2009, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you bronxmom... I did communicate with DH about all the things my parents do for DSD and asked him if that counts for nothing? I pointed out how they do sleepovers with just her in her special princess tent they got for her. My sets up the tent with coloring books and markers, and sets up a little tray with a juice box and grapes and crackers. Everytime my Mom has watched DSD she has set up special activities such as baking cookies or picking wildflowers in the pasture. My Dad takes her out to play with the dogs and horses all the time. My Mom shows up randomly with gifts for DSD or a new outfit. She just recently got her the game candy land and a bag of gummy worms to go with a candy fun night.

The other day my Mom said she has two firsts.... a first grandchild and a first grandbaby.

My DSD does call my Mom Grammy and my Dad Poppy.

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